Project Green Light welcomes 500th business
Detroit — After thieves drove a truck through the window of a downtown Detroit store last year, owner Clement Brown wondered how they could be so brazen.
When he asked police how such a thing could happen on a busy street, they responded with a question of their own: Did he have surveillance cameras?
As Brown prepares to open a second clothing store on Wednesday, he resolved not to be caught again without them.
His Three Thirteen business will be part of the city's quickly growing Project Green Light, where businesses' cameras stream into city police facilities.
In fact, Three Thirteen will be the 500th business to join the program, which began in 2016.
"I had to come to terms whether it was worth it," Brown said about the initiative, which costs businesses between $4,000 and $6,000 to join, plus a monthly fee of up to $150 for cloud-based video storage..
"I'm here to say to say it's definitely worth it," he said.
Brown spoke during a press conference Monday to herald the half-thousand mark in the city crime-fighting initiative.
Joining him at his new business on Livernois Avenue were Mayor Mike Duggan and Police Chief James Craig.
Duggan said the city hasn't had to sell the program to businesses. They're selling it to each other through word of mouth, he said.
When the program began, Quicken Loans founder Dan Gilbert had an extensive surveillance system among his downtown Detroit properties, said Duggan.
"Now we don't have just one billionaire (doing it), we have 500 businesses who pitch in and do their own areas," said the mayor. "As a result, it's having an enormous positive impact."
Craig reeled off several crime statistics that have shown drops since Project Green Light started.
There's been a 50 percent decrease in carjackings in three years, he said. In the first quarter of this year, robberies have fallen 45 percent.
"It's a small idea that has blossomed," Craig said.
Project Green Light hasn't been without controversy. Some businesses have complained that police respond quicker to crimes at businesses that join the program over those that don't. Police officials have cited statistics that they say shows that isn't the case.
The program's success is also shown in other ways, according to the chief. He said criminals are reluctant to rob businesses because they aren't sure which are protected by cameras and which aren't.
The program has drawn a lot of interest from outsiders, Craig said, adding that 50 cities, including London, England, have inquired about the initiative.
As for Brown, he looks forward to not having to use other security measures, such as protecting the business' facade with roll-down shutters.
He wants customers to be able to look inside his store whenever they want.
After all, he said, he has a lot of good things to sell.